Leon’s anthem – and the world’s

Photo: Paula Čurkste/LETA

CBC radio icon Peter Gzowski once asked Cape Breton songwriter Leon Dubinsky, who died last month at the age of 82, to recall the most memorable performance of one of his songs.

If you were listening to that interview, Leon’s response made your world stand still for a moment.

Dubinsky said his most revered song,  We Rise Again, had been sung during Holocaust commemoration events in Europe.  

Specifically, it was performed by Holocaust survivors marching between Nazi concentration camps during the annual March of the Living.

The marches have been held annually since 1988 to honor the memory of the six million Jews who were killed in the German camps.

Did Leon’s simple lyrics – ‘We rise again in the faces of our children’ – ever carry more meaning?

­Cape Bretoners call We Rise Again the island’s unofficial anthem, and with good reason. Leon was an islander, and he wrote the song for Cape Breton.

But this story tells us Leon’s anthem, like all great art, belongs to the world.